From Iceland — Track By Track: Pascal Pinon's 'Sundur'

Track By Track: Pascal Pinon’s ‘Sundur’

Published September 7, 2016

Track By Track: Pascal Pinon’s ‘Sundur’

Pascal Pinon is twin sisters Ásthildur and Jófríður Ákadóttir, who self-produced their first album aged just fourteen. Their second, released in 2013, was called ‘Twosomeness’, and their third, out now, is called ‘Sundur’.

“Finding a name for an album is crazy difficult,” says Ásthildur, “because the songs have different emotions connected to them. But we liked this one. We lived in different countries for the last two years, so the process of making of an album was totally different this time.”

Jósa & Lotta
Ásthildur: This song is maybe my favourite. It’s our nicknames, Jósa and Lotta. We recorded it when Jófríður visited me in Amsterdam. We also included the original phone demo at the start. I really like the atmosphere of it.

Jófríður: “53” was written when I was only seventeen. I had made a new friend, one I had the chance and privilege of sharing thoughts on life and death with. He told me the story of how his mother committed suicide in the most tragic way. I went home that same day and wrote the song in the afternoon, trying to make sense of the story, the emotions and his remarkable wholeness.

J: We called this song “the techno song” because of the Casio keyboard beat. It emerged shortly after we recorded ‘Twosomeness’, so it has a very similar lyrical theme: longing to be with someone that’s far away.

J: The title is a term that exists only in Icelandic and translates as “the short days” or is basically referring to the dark winter season. It’s a kind of hopeful melancholy, things are pretty low but they’re gonna get better.

J: We named this one “Fuglar” (or “Birds”) because we were asked to donate a song to collect money for endangered migrant birds in Malta. We contributed a demo of this track and named it in honour of all birds.

Spider Light
A: We both play the piano in this one—it’s a four-handed version. We recorded it on a really nice grand piano that was just out of tune, but just nicely out of tune.

J: We used to call this song the Brahms ballad, as a reference to its Brahms-inspired chord progression. The lyrics are a kind of diary style storytelling, you can even hear me turning a page at one point.

J: This one is the sleepy song. We recorded some bells, a bass drum and a lawn mower that was passing by the studio and hummed in perfect tune to the music.

A: The lyrics of this one are inspired by a short story by Karen Blixen, one of my favourite authors. The story is about a man who wanted to be closer to God, so he made himself wings and lived a bird; but then he realised if you’re a fish you can swim in all directions and never fall.

Pascal Pinon

A: We asked, “How can we make a song for voice and piano that’s not an almost-classical cliché type of thing?” So we made this one. We put paper on top of the piano strings so there’s some extended technique.
J: It’s a general tale and pondering of love and what it means and takes to get it right. I wrote the song and Ásthildur made the piano arrangement skilfully.

J: This is an old song, recorded live, during the last hours of an intense weekend of recording sessions. It tells a tale of melancholy and being apart from somebody or something. It has some funny instruments—bird flutes, bassoon played by Ásthildur, and tuba played by our father.

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